tragic, comic love affair

A Woman is a Woman, created by Jean-Luc Godard, is a free-spirited work of art, shattering the norms of a stereotypical American Hollywood musical. The film tells a story about an unconventional love triangle consisting of a stripper who wants to have a baby (Angela), her sophisticated boyfriend (Émile) who does not want to be part of the plan, and their common friend (Alfred) who is in love with Angela and is willing to do the work for her. Lots of interesting elements are brought out onto the film that somehow proves the undeniable wit of the director and his mastery of filmmaking by not following the rules but by breaking it.

One great characteristic of A Woman is a Woman is how it showcases a luscious piano score that is segmented into various scenes. The music randomly interchanges with the characters’ dialogue, making it seem like the actors are somewhat singing along with the music. This film is unconventionally theatrical given that there is a huge play on bright colored lights, entertaining choreography but no real dancing and random, quirky camera movements all throughout.

There is a sense of rawness to the film as most of the dialogue in this film is improvised, giving the actors the freedom to show who their characters are.  Other significant features include the actors addressing the camera directly showing much more vivid emotions, film captions that explicate the characters’ situations, sudden camera freezes and jumps, and wide panning that capture the entire room setting with all the extra details even before the main characters convey the storyline.

These different elements make some scenes very distinct and seem strangely realistic. An example of this is the random interplay of background music and traffic noise while Angela was strolling along the Paris streets encapsulating how it is like to be in the Paris scene back in the 1960’s. Other scenes displayed true-to-life relational dialectics between couples as Émile and Angela argued about their future, their possible marriage and the pregnancy that Angela is yearning for. Even though their arguments seem pragmatic for a couple who live together, it was creatively exhibited in the movie as they switched turns in conveying their thoughts through titles on book jackets, as they argued passionately while Émile was running around in circles on a bicycle, and as they had amusing phone calls where they hide their feelings of love through sarcasm and fake anger.

When it comes to the ludicrous yet amusing storyline, the main character delivers everything gracefully with her sweet and goofy aura. From making duck poses, to singing acapella, to overcooking dinner and to hammering the broken shower, Angela encapsulates how unvarnished and faulty a woman can be, but can still possess that dazzling beauty as she walks along the streets with her head held high. Moreover, the male leads mesh well together with Angela’s playful “I-can-get-everything-I-want” attitude, as one completely defies her overindulgence and the other, gaily chases her around. These two extremes establish the solid foundation of who Angela [as a woman] really is.  Frisky and vibrant, the movie knows too well that the audience may be confused whether the woman getting her way is a comedy or a tragedy. But as said in the movie, no matter how bizarre this experimental film might turn out to be, it truly is a masterpiece.





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